Survivors
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Reengaging the survivors of the recession

Reengaging the survivors of the recession

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Survivors Survivors Document Transcript

  • “What  about  Me?”                                                                                                                                                                         Combating  survivor  syndrome  post  redundancy  An  article  by  Nada  Williams  posted  in  Personnel  Today,  (based  on  a  survey  in  IRS  Employment  Review),  shows  that  employees  who  have  been  through  redundancy  programmes  were  adversely  affected  in  a  number  of  ways.  This  included  lower  morale,  reduced  motivation,  higher  rates  of  sickness  absence  (65%  of  employers  reported  increased  stress  levels  amongst  remaining  employees)  and  retention  problems.  Uncertainty  and  ambiguity  concerning  job  security  is  a  fact  that  is  likely  to  remain  with  us  for  the  foreseeable  future.    Working  as  a  career  coach  over  the  last  two  years,  I  have  seen  a  growing  realisation,  particularly  in  the  public  sector  that  the  concept  of  jobs  for  life  no  longer  exists.  Even  in  organisations  and  departments  that  are  not  directly  effected  by  redundancies,  the  climate  of  recession,  cutbacks  and  constant  uncertainty  is  starting  to  impact  on  the  well  being  of  employees.  We  have  seen  a  significant  investment  to  ensure  that  individuals  exiting  organisations  are  given  as  much  support  and  opportunity  as  possible.    For  those  who  are  in  the  fortunate  position  of  not  having  to  make  cuts,  I  wonder  what  level  of  priority  is  given  to  protecting  one  of  the  most  valuable  assets  within  the  business  –  the  people.  Is  there  a  pro-­‐rata  level  of  investment  into  those  individuals  who  remain  within  the  organisation?      In  a  previous  role  as  an  HR  Director  I  commissioned  a  project  to  review  the  work  life  balance  in  the  organisation.  This  was  pre-­‐mobile  phone  legislation  and  we  faced  a  constant  battle  between  the  needs  of  the  business  to  communicate  with  the  regional  operations  team  and  implementing  sufficient  protocols  to  ensure  their  safety.    Working  a  full  day  and  then  driving  two  or  three  hours  to  the  next  region  was  considered  part  of  the  job,  being  accessible  to  talk  on  the  phone  whilst  en  route  was  mandatory.    I  was  fortunate  enough  to  launch  a  number  of  initiatives  including  safe  driving  courses,  yoga  classes  in  the  evening  and  a  massage  service  (using  the  first  aid  room  as  a  base).    The  constant  struggle  was  to  demonstrate  an  effective  business  case  for  these  types  of  investments.    Using  the  analogy  of  the  level  of  investment  made  yearly  in  IT  systems,  maintenance  of  the  buildings  etc  as  a  percentage  of  the  asset  value  seemed  a  straightforward  approach.  Comparing  the  annual  spend  on  payroll  and  the  level  of  investment  in  employee  support  systems  and  development  versus  the  annual  spend  on  IT  and  the  level  of  investment  in  software  and  hardware  seems  an  entirely  appropriate  and  logical  comparison.      Yet  we  always  seem  to  struggle  in  validating  investment  into  what  are  perceived  as  the  softer  issues,  especially  in  the  current  climate.  One  of  the  challenges  is  to  demonstrate  cause  and  effect  -­‐  an  investment  of  X  yields  a  benefit  of  Y.    Some  of     ©  Andrew  Porter  2011  –  All  rights  reserved  
  • “What  about  Me?”                                                                                                                                                                        the  aspects  of  greater  engagement  and  well  being  at  work  are  relatively  easy  to  quantify.    A  reduction  in  sickness  or  absence  (potentially  due  to  stress),  or  a  direct  increase  in  productivity  can  be  measured.  But  how  do  we  demonstrate  that  this  was  as  a  direct  result  of  any  support  measures  that  we  implemented?  What  price  do  we  put  on  an  increase  in  staff  morale  and  a  reduction  in  staff  turnover?  We  talk  about  discretionary  effort  and  ‘going  the  extra  mile’  for  the  customer.  Can  we  really  stand  up  and  say  that  we  are  doing  the  same  for  the  people  we  work  with?  One  of  the  first  things  to  go  in  times  of  cutbacks  is  ‘discretionary  spend’  and  that  means  anything  that  is  not  seen  to  be  directly  contributing  value  to  the  organisation.  In  another  role  whilst  attempting  to  turn  around  a  loss-­‐making  company,  my  priority  was  to  reduce  losses  in  order  to  enable  people  to  keep  their  jobs.  In  that  environment  the  focus  is  of  necessity  pragmatic  and  hard-­‐nosed.  Levels  of  engagement  and  morale  almost  become  secondary  to  survival.  Yet  there  must  be  a  balance.  In  a  failing  business  the  one  thing  that  may  well  turn  it  around  is  the  commitment  and  effort  of  the  employees.  Without  engagement  and  motivation,  without  support  and  clear  communication  the  one  thing  that  will  ensure  success  may  well  be  lacking.    So  where  does  that  leave  us?  Wherever  we  are,  whether  surviving,  prospering  or  just  in  limbo  riding  things  out,  creating  an  environment  of  well  being  makes  commercial  sense.  There  are  some  simple  practical  and  cost-­‐effective  steps  that  we  can  put  in  place  -­‐  access  to  on-­‐site  services  such  as  massage,  advice  on  nutrition/diet  and  exercise  and  signposting  to  complementary  therapies  (yoga,  Reiki  etc).  Related  articles  in  Personnel  Today:      Know  how  to  manage  survivor  guilt  -­  Tara  Craig    “Survivor  syndrome”  among  staff  is  hindering  employers  -­  Nada  Williams.    About  the  Author:  Andrew  Porter  is  a  Coach  and  Mentor  working  with  individuals  and  organisations  across  the  public,  private  and  third  sector.  An  experienced  business,  life  and  career  coach,  he  works  extensively  to  support  the  development  of  resilient  organisations  where  individuals  can  develop  and  exercise  their  personal  leadership  skills.  Andrew’s  profile  is  on  Linkedin  at:  http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-­‐porter/5/43a/146/     ©  Andrew  Porter  2011  –  All  rights  reserved